HR and Social Media: You Can Teach a Dog New Tricks

HR professionals are, by nature, conservative.

We are known as the rule-makers, nay-sayers, job-makers and job-breakers (at least on occasion). Those of us fortunate to be in the Midwest are somewhat insulated from change – since our world doesn’t change as rapidly as the world in California or New Yorker – and that also makes us conservative, if not ultraconservative.

As one who fits in both of those categories and has had the opportunity to sit “at the table” in the C-suite, I say we owe it to our organizations and ourselves to start thinking out of the proverbial conservative HR box when it comes to social media.  Instead of thinking of social media as a taboo, time-waster, resource-sucking 21st century trend, we need to come to grips with the fact that social media is here to stay.

If we want a seat at the table, even if our table is a conservative table, we have to make the move from being transactional to being proactive, analytical and forward-thinking and social media can help us take steps in that direction. We  must turn the corner on social media and stop being afraid of it or thinking of it as an ‘evil’ time-waster.

We have to become data-oriented in the business and improve our own business acumen.  Social media can help. Are you nay-saying me right now? Take a look at this data I collected from our burgeoning HRIS:

  • We received 975 electronic applications in only 3 months on our new HRIS and hired 24 individuals.
  • 16.67% of our new hires came as a result of an employee referral (a number I need to improve upon, and so it is important for me to know it) and 33%  were a result of seeing our job postings somewhere on the internet.
  • Of the applicants, 30% came from Indiana Career; 15% from our website; 11% from Career; 11% employee referral; 2% from LinkedIn, and a couple from Facebook and Twitter.  14% of the applicants came from “other internet website,” and only 2.5% of applications were generated by a newspaper ad.

Those are analytics I can work with to determine how best to recruit in the future and make most use of our financial resources as well. Already, I’ve cut our a

dvertising budget by more than $25,000 in recent years due to the upswing of internet recruiting.  This tells me we need to continue our quest to be tech-savvy and to understand our business of HR and the ‘business of our business.’  Social media helps me with all of that.

Lighten up, my HR colleagues, work with IT to loosen the system strings at your company. Use social media. Start slow – it can be overwhelming. Get a couple of wins from technology and share those with your executives.  Stop slapping the hands of those in your company who are tweeting, hooting, or Facebook-ing.  Chances are, if you are trying to keep them from it, they are loudly clamoring about it – on social media.

Use social media to your advantage.  Learn to blog, start recruiting through LinkedIn, capitalize on your contacts in Facebook to help find your next rising star for your company or use the internet to develop yourself. I just saw an article posted on LinkedIn, from Harvard Business Review.  It’s worth your time to take a look.   It is called “Managers Need to Up Their Game with Social Media.”

I admit it.  I am on Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Twitter – daily.  Sometimes, gasp, even while I am at work.  I use all of the above to research HR information such as topics on motivating, training, succession planning, recruiting, retaining, compensation, benefits, and vendor and outsourcing selection.  And my list goes on.  I don’t know FourSquare, Google+, HootSuite (and the list grows longer every day) – yet.  But every now and then, this old dog can learn a new trick.

Sign me, Old But Learning….

About the author: Dorothy Douglass is an HR professional who has served in HR and management roles for 20 years+ who considers herself  fairly tech-UNsavvy.  She is the VP of HR for MutualBank , has been with them for 10 years  and is in her third year at the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wisconsin. She is one of few HR professionals privileged to attend the full 3-year banking program rather than the 1-year HR program. Masochist?  Maybe.  But it's made her a better banker, for sure.


About the Author

Dorothy Douglass


Dorothy Douglass

Thanks, Eric! Some days it is just “one bite at a time!” I take pride in a company that allows me to keep trying new things! My Twitter handle is @dot23scott.

Eric Cook

Great post Dorothy. Loved the statement: “I admit it. I am on Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Twitter – daily. Sometimes, gasp, even while I am at work.” What organizations need to get comfortable with is that social networking is all about communication and connection – building relationships.

We’d never say “gasp, I used the phone today” but that’s just as much a communication tool as the growing social networks for many of our customers. Just think about how much our kids are using their “phones” to talk to each other compared to the amount of time they spend texting, updating their Facebook status and sending direct messages to one another. That alone tells you where the future customer (and employee) is going to be found.

Keep up the great work and keep on learning. Remember, you eat an elephant one bite at a time, so don’t get discouraged…


Dorothy Douglass

Thank you Omar! I apprecate your feedback. I agree on all counts. I think there’s a combination of both we need to do, strategically – grow our own, and recruit great outside talent for some positions. It’s a delicate balance, and requires a lot of work.


Great article as usual, this shows companies are having to use savy cost effective ways of recruiting the best talent!! the age of high budget recruitment is over, this could be a good thing however, i feel it means that HR and employment departments need to concentrate on sourcing and raising talent from a young age, not relying on head hunters excessive fees to pull in the best at senior level, GROW YOUR OWN TALENT!. dont buy it in.

tweet me @omarprovidajob. thanks.

“This tells me we need to continue our quest to be tech-savvy and to understand our business of HR and the ‘business of our business.’ Social media helps me with all of that.”

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